Rural Mothers Experiencing the Stress of Intimate Partner Violence or Not: Their Newborn Health Concerns

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Pregnancy and the postpartum period is a time of great physical, psychological, and emotional upheaval. Women who experience intimate partner violence experience more depression and anxiety and a higher risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes (such as those related to the abuse). While the literature supports the presence of increased health care utilization for abused women, there is little information on the way that these mothers seek medical care for their infants. This secondary analysis is part of a larger study on smoking cessation in low-income, rural pregnant women called Baby Behavioral Education Enhancement of Pregnancy (Baby BEEP). Women (N = 616) were classified as abused or not abused based on their answers to the Abuse Assessment Screen. At 6 weeks postdelivery, each woman was asked, “Has your baby had any problems that you talked to the doctor or nurse about?” The abused women (n = 211) sought health care advice significantly more often than the nonabused women (n = 405; Pearson χ2 = 4.89; P = .027). Stress scores were elevated for all women in the study, but women categorized as abused experienced significantly more stress (P < .001).



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